Women of Allah

April 25–June 7, 1997

Questioning issues related to fundamentalism, religion and a women’s role in the Middle East, Shirin Neshat’s photographs attempt to intersect the merging position of culture and politics of the state.

Artspeak Gallery is pleased to present the work of New York based photographer Shirin Neshat. The Women of Allah series will be exhibited at the Artspeak Gallery until June 7. This series of work has been an on-going project that started in 1993. Various components from this series have been exhibited at different international venues—1995 Venice Biennale, 1996 the Istanbul Biennial, and the “Jurassic Technologies Revenant” the 10th Biennial of Sydney, Australia. Shirin Neshat was born in Qazvin, Iran in 1957. She left Iran in 1974 to pursue Fine Arts at the University of California where she received her MFA in 1982. In 1990 Neshat visited Iran for the first time in 16 years. Afterward, returning to the United States, her work took on a dramatic shift as she began a formal exploration of the complex role negotiated by Iranian women throughout history. As a young adult Neshat left Iran before the Revolution that took place under the Khomenini regime in 1978/79. She made photographs which discussed these issues, using herself as the subject.

Examining the paradoxical position of Iranian women she reflected on personal memories of the homeland. Memories that included wearing a chador to Mosque and the influence of Iranian feminist poets. Many of these past experiences figure prominently in her work, resulting in highly charged, confrontational images, that represent a hybrid cultural construction of the self. Questioning issues related to fundamentalism, religion and a women’s role in the Middle East, Neshat attempts to intersect the merging position of culture and politics of the state. Excerpts of Farsi poems from contemporary writers like Forough Farokhzad and Tahereh Saffarazdeh have been applied directly onto the surfaces of the photographs in black and red ink. These poets figure prominently in Shirin Neshat’s work – they were women who addressed issues of sexuality and desire at a time when no else had dared to engage with such subjects. In addressing these issues Neshat not only tries to reconcile her past, but simultaneously provokes her audience into furthering the discussion.

A catalogue publication, “Women of Allah” will be released on Friday May 16. Copies may be ordered through the gallery. This 33 page publication contains black and white and colour illustrations of the artist’s work, an essay by Jacqueline Larson and Ahmad T. The cost is $15. Add $2. additional for postage and handling. Cheques are made payable to Artspeak Gallery. Shirin Neshat will be in attendance for the book launch, and to present short, informal talk which begins at 8pm.

Talks & Events

  • Book Launch/Artist Talk

    May 16, 1997

    Exhibition publication launch and artist talk in conjunction to Shirin Neshat’s “Women of Allah” show at Artspeak Gallery.


  • Women of Allah

    Title: Women of Allah
    Category: Exhibition Catalogue
    Artist: Shirin Neshat
    Writers: Jacqueline Larson, Ahmad T.
    Editor: Susan Edelstein
    Design: Roberta Batchelor
    Publisher: Artspeak
    Printer: Stereo Printers
    Year published: 1997
    Pages: 31pp
    Cover: Paper
    Binding: Staple Bound
    Process: Offset
    Features: 4 b&w images, 4 colour images
    Dimensions: 25 x 19 x 0.3 cm
    Weight: 160 g
    ISBN: 0-921394-27-6
    Price: $15 CDN

    Larson’s text gives a feminist analysis of Neshat’s work, while the voice of Ahmad T., an Iranian political dissident who lived through the Iranian revolution, counters the essay with personal experience.

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